New Music and Recommendations


Gavin Herrmann, Staff Writer

Lockdowns and cancellations have left both music creators and listeners with nothing but time. For many like myself, this has meant rediscovering my favorite artists and songs while also finding new music I never would have previously listened to. Genres I didn’t even know existed have moved to the forefront of my listening habits. I also took the time to listen to full albums to truly understand what the artist was trying to say in their works and the emotions they were conveying.

In a time so desolate of events and interactions, several artists drew inspiration from the quarantine. For example, AJR, a New York-based band of three brothers, released “Bummerland”, a song exploring all the plans that they had for the summer of 2020 that fell flat due to the lockdown. Twenty One Pilots, a duo group, wrote a song, “Level of Concern,” describing the artists’ fears about what will happen to relationships and love lives during quarantine. These songs, along with several others helped me through the feeling of isolation that many others experienced as well.

Several of the songs and albums of 2020 had been inspired in some way by the pandemic, which at the time seemed one of the only stimuli for imagination. However, several popular albums unrelated to quarantine were released shortly after the initial panic of the pandemic. To begin, AJR released OK ORCHESTRA in March of 2021. This album is themed around adulthood and learning to move on and grow up. Within the album, songs like “Humpty” “Dumpty”, “Joe”, and “The Trick” represent wanting to live up to the standards of others, even if it means being someone you’re not. I highly recommend this album, as each of the songs has a deeper meaning, while also having fun beats.

Later that spring, Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album, Sour, which immediately became popular for its relatable nature. The album examines the perils and discoveries of a 17-year-old, with the title referring to the “sour” and often-criticized emotions of teenagers, such as anger, unhappiness, and jealousy. Specifically, the songs focus on a bad breakup, where the boy in question was thought to have moved on too quickly. This album can be enjoyed in many different situations, from parties to times when you feel super emotional. For that reason, I recommend this album.

In the summer, Tyler the Creator released his long-awaited album Call Me If You Get Lost on June 25th. The album tells a story of traveling the world, learning who you are, romance, and heartbreak. Through each song, Tyler tells a chapter of his story of self-discovery and the ups and downs of his adventures. With everything from hip hop to rap to ballads, this album has something for everyone. I didn’t like the album very much until I truly listened to the songs and learned their deeper meanings. From then on, it has become one of my favorite albums. 

Just one month later, Billie Eilish released her album Happier Than Ever, which was a complete 180 from her previous works. Eilish’s albums and songs had always had a uniquely dark feel to them, frequently discussing difficult topics such as mental illness and addiction. Her most recent album, however, had equally meaningful lyrics while being presented in a much lighter style. Each of the songs examines her rapid ascension to stardom and all of its accompanying horrors. Additionally, the tracks look at Eilish’s experiences of personal trauma and abuses of power throughout her life. The raw emotions in this album are easy to hear and will touch the hearts of any listener.

Moving on from recent albums, here are some other assorted music recommendations. For those looking for good music to study to that’s a little more intense than traditional classical, I’d highly recommend Hans Zimmer. Zimmer is a world-renowned film score composer and director and has made countless masterpieces of music. Some of his best works are the soundtracks for the movies Inception, Dune, and Interstellar. Interestingly enough, when composing Interstellar, Zimmer was never given a movie script by Christopher Nolan, the director of the movie. Instead, he was given short descriptions of each scene that needed a track and was told to compose one with only this information. This was meant to add to the mystery and uncertainty of the movie, which is certainly accomplished. In the world of punk rock, Green Day provides a fun, easy to listen to, introduction to the genre. They have many great songs that are perfect to dance to or simply listen to. Talking more about classic rock, Queen is a household name, with many famous favorites that are loved by multiple generations. I highly recommend both of these artists. The genre of rap has a love-hate relationship with many, but for me, that relationship has much more love. Kanye West, despite his controversial behaviors, has released many great albums. His album titled Yeezus remains one of my favorites. Although many of its messages are more surface-level than music written by others, almost every song is fun to listen to. Lastly, Jaden Smith has a spot as one of my favorite artists, with great albums and songs that convey deep messages and emotions.

Music has been a constant in my life while the world fell apart in the past two years. It’s helped me stay connected to society and find new friends. From my journey of music through the pandemic, I’ve learned the impact that a single lyric can have. I realized how many emotions I could experience from listening to just one song and my eyes were opened to the stories that artists hide behind rhymes and rhythms.